Ecclesiastes: Living and Leaving – To Die Well

To be alive is to have the opportunity to live, love, and impact the world. But death puts an end to our strongest emotions. The things we thought most important will be buried with us—or will they? 

Ecclesiastes 9:4-6
But he who is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing, and they have no more reward, for the memory of them is forgotten. Their love and their hate and their envy have already perished, and forever they have no more share in all that is done under the sun.

A lion is the king of the jungle—an amazing creature demonstrating power and agility. But a dead lion loses his roar. Solomon says that a live dog is better off. Life provides opportunity. We could say it this way, life gives us the opportunity to die well. 

Solomon has made it clear in his journal that we will all die. The question is, “How can we live so we can die well?” In his book, Living Life Backward, David Gibson explains what it means to die well.¹

To die well means that you realize death is the limit God has placed on creatures who want to be gods.

Death entered the stream of humanity because Adam and Eve wanted to be like God. We inherit the same disease. Deep in the heart of man is a yearning to be his or her own god. Death is the exclamation mark to emphasize that this will not happen. 

To die well means I realize death is simply something that must happen because I am a sinner. 

Adam and Eve were not created to die. Death was a concept in the command not to eat from the tree in the middle of the garden. The concept became a reality when Adam and Eve believed Satan’s lie (that they would be like God) and blatantly disobeyed. As a result of sin, death entered the human race. We are all sinners and live under the penalty of death. Every grave marker is a reminder that I am a sinner in need of a Savior. 

To die well means that every time I see a coffin, it preaches to me that the world is broken and fallen and under the curse of death—and I am a part of it.   

This world, “under the sun,” the broken and fallen world, is not the way it’s supposed to be. God did not create Adam and Eve to die, but sin changed that. Every coffin is a gospel message. I need to be rescued from myself and this broken world. 

To die well means realizing that from the day I was born, I have lived under the sentence of death, and I am amazed that God spared me as long as he did. 

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail” (Lam. 3:22 NIV). God’s grace and mercy are displayed in his sparing us, sending his Son to rescue us, and then taking us home. 

To die well means everything I have in this world I hold with open hands because I love Jesus more than anything and anyone else, and I’m happy to go home to him. 

The things of this world tie us to this world. Loving Jesus means that he is the One I hold tightly while other things are held loosely. I will take nothing with me as I transition from this world to eternity. But the moment I die, I will see Jesus face to face as he ushers me home. 

Father, help me live well so I can die well. Help me live with eternity in mind so my life can matter here on earth. Thank you for Jesus. I hold tightly to him. In Jesus’ name. Amen. 

¹ David Gibson, Living Life Backwards: How Ecclesiastes Teaches Us to Live in Light of the End, (Wheaton, Ill. Crossway, 2017), 109-110.

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